77 Days

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So Crystal Palace bosses sack Frank De Boer after 77 days and 4 PL games in charge. Shortest number of games and second only to Les Read of Charlton in days. From any angle this decision smacks of panic. De Boer wasn’t a knee jerk appointment but one made after considerable due process by those in charge at Palace. One can only presume that the interview process was conducted only after the business goals and principles were properly assessed by the Palace board and senior management and that De Boer was duly appointed as someone who would implement those plans. Premier League football clubs are big businesses and should conduct their businesses accordingly.

There must be serious doubts over the competence of the owners and Steve Parrish if after such a short period of time one of their major decisions is, by their own admission, one that was totally wrong.

Crystal Palace, like it or not, will always be one of those teams with a reasonable probability of being involved in relegation. Additionally any team can have a run of losing games at some point in the season. In all of the seasons Palace have been in the Premier League they have had runs of four or more losing games.

2013/14 – 7 losing games with only 2 goals scored – 19 games lost in total

2014/15 – 4 losing games with only 1 goal scored – 16 games lost in total

2015/16 – 4 losing games with only 1 goal scored – 18 games lost in total

2016/17 – 6 losing games with 10 goals scored – 21 games lost in total

It is not unusual for Palace to have losing streaks. De Boer is unlucky that it has happened at the beginning of the season but probability would suggest it could happen at any time so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Palace have a reasonable squad of players capable of competing in the Premier League. Whoever takes over from De Boer may well reap a series of wins simply due to random chance.

Clearly something went on behind the scenes and we shall never know what but for a manager to lose the confidence of the senior management after only 4 games, and if the news stories are to be believed the rot set in even earlier, then there are serious deficiencies in the management set up.

Club managers need time to set up their teams, gain the confidence of the squad and get a run of games to even out the luck, good or bad, that all teams have to deal with.

De Boer didn’t get that and he probably should.

At the end of the day the club owners make the decisions but that makes clubs autocratic and prone to the bad judgements of a small group of people. It is not just managers who are bad for football clubs. Owners can be hugely destructive too.


Why no deal or a bad deal are the only two choices on offer

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UK businesses need to start preparing now for the likelihood that there will be no unified deal covering the UK’s exit from Europe.

Let’s face it anyone expecting a good deal is being naive. The odds are actually more in favour of no deal. The chaotic negotiating style of EU representatives and the need to get 27 different countries to agree to a multiplicity of arrangements will be impossible.

The other decisive factor is down to incentives. Politicians of whatever stripe have, in that ghastly phrase, “no skin in the game”. A failure to agree a deal will not result in any immediate loss of office for any politico involved in the negotiations. If anything they are incentivised to not make a deal since all the risk hangs on the side of agreement and any measurement of success will be prone to intense criticism given that the naysayers will vastly outweigh those who are in favour for any outcome apart from stalemate. For Barnier, Fox, Juncker and Davis any form of compromise will be seen as weakness by both their supporters and their opponents. The obvious negotiating solution for all of them is to not agree a deal and blame the other side’s obstinacy for the failure to get something done thus preserving their political face.

The so called “Brexit negotiations” are in reality an exercise of personal power between the main protagonists. It is about perceived prestige and the portrayal of the strong man, they are all white men after all, and none will want to be seen to back down to any of the others. To do so will mean the end of political careers.

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The real negotiations can only start once the current political sideshow is over and will take place between those who have real reasons for making them succeed. The out turn of Brexit negotiations will take ten, twenty and thirty years to resolve and can only take place in a piece meal way. The priorities will only become truly apparent when the policy failures are exposed and politicians are forced to tackle issues which mean something to each party. That cannot happen until the current charade is over. The UK already had the best deal it was likely to get now each new relationship between the UK and the European Commission will need to tackled individually and away from the false publicity of the Barnier/Juncker – Fox/Davis bun fight. Nothing good can come from this posturing so we may as well get used to the reality now.